This past week I got asked this question and although I have no doubts when I am creating my Adobe Analytics (AA) segments I still could not give a clear answer. Later on that day, I stoped and thought about my logical mechanism to create the segment. This is how I choose.
Problem that I am trying to solve
Segments is a very powerful and useful tool in AA. It allows you to create variables that were not available before. And because it is so useful, some analysts forget that they should be created to solve problems and not expand variables.
For example, let’s create a situation where I am asked to filter all conversions for a specific product, here called product bazinga. The checkout url for my commerce variables are all the same after a parameter but they all differ in the product name. No need to say that the product name is not shared in this data layer setup. This is how the confirmation url would like:
When someone buys the product cozinga:
And when someone buys the bazinga product we:
This case it’s a no brainer because I want to filter all pages that contain the string bazinga and the string orderconfirmation. And when the user hits these pages. It does not matter for me what they do after, before, in a different day. All care is that hit.
Basically I defined my problem. Defined the view I was trying to focus on and then it is clear which option I should choose.
Variables involved in the report
Now that the product is clear, looking at the variables you will be selecting in this report is also pretty useful. If the variables are more related to the hit, page views, time on page, scroll down then that’s what you are looking for. If the variables are more related to the visit (such as revenue, basket size, day of the order) then you should definitely use visit. The same with visitor.
Hit: I am focus on the page and what happens in that page. Anything after or before does not influence my segment. Ex: Page isolation, bounce rate in pages, product analysis.
Visits: I am focus on that visit, pages only matter in a visit level. Ex. what is number of page views for the product bazinga that comes SEM traffic source.
Visitors: I have a broad focus and I am interested in users. It does matter what users did in a previous visit. Ex. I want to know how many users from BC bought the product bazinga in the last 30 days.
Be careful when using segments that were created for different purpose, it might influence results. Ex. If you have your bazinga purchase segment and the business asks you to answer a question related to traffic source, you might have a higher number than you were supposed to. You are applying a hit segment to a problem that requires a visit segment for instance.